Loss hurts Bama’s chance at tournament

Loss hurts Bamas chance at tournament

UA Athletics

04_21_12 MBA vs Vanderbilt #3 Kenny Roberts Photo by Kalyn-Wright Davis

Brett Hudson

The Alabama Crimson Tide, trying to make a late push for a possible bid in the Southeastern Conference tournament, lost out on a sweep of the Vanderbilt Commodores with a loss on Sunday. Despite playing great games on Friday and Saturday, Alabama faltered late and let the Commodores come from behind to beat the Crimson Tide 9-7. “We broke down in the eighth,” head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “Walked a few guys, had a double-play ball we weren’t able to turn, and that led to [pinch hitter Chris Harvey’s] big hit.” Alabama gave up five runs in the top of the eighth after taking a 7-2 lead after seven innings. Alabama pitcher Justin Kamplain gave up a single, double, triple and a walk that gave up four runs before Jake Hubbard came in to pitch. Hubbard immediately gave up an RBI double that tied the game. This was an unusual spot for Kamplain, who normally pitches in Alabama’s starting rotation as opposed to out of the bullpen. “We used him in that role to take a look at that,” Gaspard said. “He’s probably had a little more success as a starter, but we wanted to look at using him twice this weekend. It worked out good for us on Friday. [Sunday] didn’t work so well.” The late collapse was yet another game that was handed to the bullpen and shortly thereafter given to the opposing team, continuing Alabama’s 2012 bullpen struggles. “We made some of the pitches we wanted, but again, we got down in the count, and the hitters had advantages in some of those spots,” Gaspard said. “Give a lot of credit to Vanderbilt — they got big hits when they needed it.” The Tide is trying to focus on the two wins it earned in the previous two games of the series and taking those performances forward. “Overall, it’s disappointing,” Gaspard said. “But, as I told the team, the way we played this weekend, if we continue to do that, I think we’ll put ourselves in a position to have a lot more success in the remaining schedule.” Although the late-inning Sunday collapse may make it harder for the players to remember, Alabama did play well throughout the weekend. “For us, right now, you have to look at the big picture,” Gaspard said. “We had another really good start today. [Alabama starting pitcher Jon] Keller really battled there to work through six innings. Offensively, we did some good things in the front part of the game and built a good lead.” Freshman catcher and right fielder Ben Moore added, “We played well all weekend. We played well today. We fell apart, but it’s not a big deal.” The Tide made some adjustments for the Vanderbilt series that could be easy to carry into the rest of the season. “As hitters, we decided that we’re putting a little too much pressure on ourselves,” Dugas said. “We decided to take a deep breath, get in there and hit. Our approach, overall, has been a lot better.” Alabama’s approach was clearly successful, hitting three home runs and scoring a total of 21 runs against the Commodores — the most Alabama has scored in a three-game weekend series since the Arkansas-Pine Bluff series from Feb. 24 to 26.